Environmental filtering of native and non-native stream macrophyte assemblages by habitat disturbances in an agricultural landscape

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  • Théophile L. Mouton, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, New Zealand
  • ,
  • Fleur E. Matheson, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, New Zealand
  • ,
  • Fabrice Stephenson, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, New Zealand
  • ,
  • Paul D. Champion, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, New Zealand
  • ,
  • Sanjay Wadhwa, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, New Zealand
  • ,
  • Mark P. Hamer, Waikato Regional Council
  • ,
  • Alicia Catlin, Waikato Regional Council
  • ,
  • Tenna Riis

Understanding how inter-specific variation in functional traits affects native and non-native species responses to stream disturbances, is necessary to inform management strategies, providing tools for biomonitoring, conservation and restoration. This study used a functional trait approach to characterise the responses of macrophyte assemblages to reach-scale disturbances (measured by lack of riparian shading, altered hydromorphology and eutrophication), from 97 wadeable stream sites in an agriculturally impacted region of New Zealand. To determine whether macrophyte assemblages differed due to disturbances, we examined multidimensional assemblage functional structure in relation to eleven functional traits and further related two functional diversity indices (entropy and originality) to disturbances. Macrophyte assemblages showed distinct patterns in response to disturbances, with riparian shading and hydromorphological conditions being the strongest variables shaping macrophyte functional structure. In the multidimensional space, most of the non-native species were associated with disturbed conditions. These species had traits allowing faster colonisation rates (higher number of reproductive organs and larger root-rhizome system) and superior competitive abilities for resources (tall and dense canopy, heterophylly and greater preferences for light and nitrogen). In addition, lack of riparian shading increased the abundance of functionally distinct species (i.e. entropy), and eutrophication resulted in the growth of functionally unique species (i.e. originality). We demonstrated that stream reach-scale habitat disturbances were associated to a dominance of more productive species, equating to a greater abundance of non-native species. This, can result in a displacement of native species, habitat alterations, and changes to higher trophic level assemblages. Our results suggests that reach-scale management efforts such as the conservation and restoration of riparian vegetation that provides substantial shading and hydromorphologically diverse in-stream habitat, would have beneficial direct and indirect effects on ecosystem functioning, and contribute to the mitigation of land-use impacts.

TidsskriftScience of the Total Environment
Sider (fra-til)1370-1381
Antal sider12
StatusUdgivet - apr. 2019

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